What happened to the premium features on the 2018 Odyssey?


This is a photo of my 2012 Honda Odyssey when I first got it for the family.  Looks pretty awesome doesn’t it?  It’s actually missing the body side molding that I have put on to protect the doors and the front windows aren’t tinted yet because I like my cars to be all gangsta like that (really its for privacy and to keep the UV rays at a minimum so we don’t become rotisserie chicken in the driver seat).  My wife allowed me to get the Touring Elite version of the van because I liked having the really large wide screen monitor (16″ thank you) in the back that can do split screen and the blind spot indicators to tell me if some jackass is just hanging out beyond the range of my mirrors.  I also went shopping for the van with my new born so that helped a lot in getting the van I wanted since she was distracted more than half the time with my kid.  I had a reason to go to my local Honda dealer to get some work done on the van, its starting to show some age at 66,000 miles but while I was there they had a 2018 Touring edition there for me to look around in.  There was also the fact that my local dealership likes to bother me while my car is being serviced to see if I would like to trade in my van.  I keep on telling them no thanks, my wife doesn’t want another mini van and I only have the one child and the fur baby (the puppy), there’s no reason to have another van.  If Honda would make a small SUV with some power behind it, maybe I could be convinced to get a CRV or something.  Anyway I’m digressing again.

The Touring edition is just below the Touring Elite but it has basically almost all the same stuff.  As I was looking in the van I noticed that some of the things that I wanted in the Odyssey were missing but they might be in the Touring Elite.  One of the things that I think they cheapened out on was the large 16″ wide screen monitor.  This one came with a smaller screen that can’t do split screen, I looked up the brochure and this option is no longer available on the van which is a shame.  I also poked around for the cool box which uses the A/C in your car to keep drinks cold while you drive wherever.  This has been completely omitted from the van from all trim levels.  I use this feature almost every week to keep drinks cold for the family whether its a long trip or a short trip.

Now I will admit that there are some really cool new features that I wish I had but these aren’t deal breakers for me really.  There is that new “are we there yet” view that shows the kids if we’re approaching the destination, the new camera system inside the car so you can see people in the back and have the ability to talk to them.  There is also a Blu-Ray player but I mainly use HDMI in my van and snaked some cables to support my iPhones so we can watch Netflix while we drive.  I wish I had all the new safety gear in the newer van but its not something that I need (I ignore lane departure and forward collision warning on my Accord most of the time).  The lack of a real gear shift bothers me some, its just buttons on a console, its not nearly as bad as what Chrysler does with their cars but its getting there.

There might be too much tech within the new Odyssey that doesn’t make a lot of sense since there should be things like CarPlay or Android Auto taking over for a lot of the in house built infotainment features of cars these days.  Some of the options are cool, the seats being able to slide together was one of them when you remove the middle seat in the middle row, but thats not going to be used the majority of the time.  I think HDMI and more real power plugs would have made the Odyssey a better vehicle rather than reducing the size of the screen or killing off my previous cold beverage cooler.  I think if I get another van its going to be a 20 foot long class B RV.  Those are built on commercial van platforms and I can even have a real fridge and toilet in it while still being able to park in a regular parking spot at my local Publix.  But thats a ways off, maybe in retirement or something. Theres still 2 years left on the warranty on the van, I might as well use it as much as I can to get things fixed before it runs out.  Then maybe just 2 more years until its replaced with something fancier and maybe self driving.


Not all extended car warranties are bad

Extended car warranties aren’t half bad.  I’ve actually used the one I bought for my van a couple of times now and it’s basically paid for itself.  Most advice is to shun said warranties because of their cost and maybe you won’t use it so you’re out some money but it’s like insurance, you pay a ton of cash for a service you may or may not use.  To date I’ve had the timing belt tensioner replaced (my most recent repair) and the engine mounts replaced.  All told that would have set me back $2K which was about the price I paid for the warranty.

So why a warranty for my van?  For one thing it’s a Touring Elite so it is jam packed with every electronic device that Honda could put into it in 2012.  Also I had read that there might be engine or transmission troubles based on some past models that concerned me and since I knew the van would be used a lot it made sense to me to get the extended warranty for the power train.  The warranty covered all the electronics too and from my experience with my older Acura, that can cause all types of headaches but so far so good on that front (knock on wood).  The process itself was simple enough, just give Honda (yes I go to the dealer for repairs but only those that aren’t routine) the phone number for claims and they do all the paper work to get paid and I just drive away after signing that the work is complete.

Now I didn’t get an extended warranty for my Accord because it is just an airport car.  I’ve owned it for almost 4 years and I’m still under 12K miles and the Accord has been solid except for the radio but that’s pervasive with the car and there’s nothing I can do to fix it.  Also since it’s an airport car it just drives on the highway so it’s not subject to a lot of stop and go daily driving and I bought a lower model so it doesn’t have all the nice electronic goodies my van has (can you tell that I love my van?).



The particular warranty that I got for the van was from a place called Warranty Direct which is a third party provider.  This is helpful to me since I can go anywhere for repairs and I can use Warranty Direct rather than having to go to a specific dealership.  Rick Case Honda which is where I normally get service has their own free 10 year 100K mile warranty but you have to get the work done at their dealership.  I also didn’t buy my car from there and Autonation Honda of Hollywood didn’t offer such an awesome extended warranty.  Not to mention its really far away from my home and I don’t want to go there just for service.  My car might not make it in the event of a bad defect.  Depending on the next car I get, I might get another extended warranty but thats what research is for or unless I get a really awesome deal, then I’m getting it anyway with the savings.

DSP Mode in my Honda made the radio not suck!

I’ve owned my Accord for nearly a year and the only gripe I’ve ever had is that the stereo kind of sucked.  It didn’t have that “boom” factor that I love when listening to music alone in my car.  And this car even came with a subwoofer and still nothing!  Another problem I have is that I sometimes the controls for the radio will freeze and I can’t change the channel or the volume messes up and goes out of contol but those are known software bugs that Honda is probably never going to fix and restarting the car seems to solve it anyway.

I was running around on the internet actually looking for any post regarding a software upgrade to the 2013 Accord to fix the channel freezing problem when I came across a YouTube post about how to make the stereo system in my car sound better.  The best part of all it required no tools at all or crazy tinkering lie uploading a different software package via the CD player.  I’d link to it but I’m writing this post on a plane and I don’t have Internet.  The tutorial talked about enabling “DSP Mode” from a diagnostic menu that’s buried in the software of the car.  Just turn DSP on and presto, my car had the boom factor I’ve been craving all this time!  The best part is that it’s a permanent fix so I don’t have to monkey in the software every time I start my car.

For those that want a little more boom in their 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V6’s, just do a Google search on 2013 Honda Accord DSP mode and watch the video and follow the instructions.  Now I’m totally pleased with my car.  Well if it was a convertible it would be even better but Honda doesn’t make those anymore sadly.

Buying new cars suck

After a 12 year run my trust worthy 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S finally developed a problem that was too expensive to justify fixing. I bought the car when my previous car, a 1988 Acura Legend, died after I blew its transmission. My Altima was about to have the same problem so I decided to sell it and use the money to get a new car.

The entire process of buying a car is pretty painful. I recall doing this exact same process when I had to replace my wife’s car with out Honda Odyssey only 2 years ago. I wasn’t expecting my Altima to fail me this soon, I really did think I could keep it going for a few more years so I could get my mid life crisis car. I did keep my promise to my father though when I first bought the Altima, I promised to keep the car for at least 10 years so he would let me get the car I wanted back then.

I originally wanted a 2015 VW GTI because I’ll admit it was a cool car, fast as hell, and it reminded me of my fathers 1979 VW Rabbit. Being the internet age, I started doing research on pricing and options on several sites regarding the GTI but I also did some research on the Honda Accord just in case. After doing some research and determining a price I wanted to pay I decided to take a test drive of the GTI. I went to my local dealer and asked to take a spin. They didn’t have a GTI to test but they had a Rabbit which is essentially the same car but with a smaller engine. So why not, I took a spin and was impressed with how it drove. Now the thing I hate is all the people you have to deal with in buying a car. Using my previous experience I got out of the dealership quickly so I wouldn’t be trapped there for hours negotiating. That’s what email and the internet is for. I did this successfully with the Honda so I should be able to do this for a VW.

I decided to use TrueCar to get some quotes and once you hit that “submit” button the emails start flying and my phone started ringing in minutes. I decided to negotiate with the closest dealership for the car. My wife and I decided on a price target for the car and I did almost everything online via email. It was the last day of the month so they were real eager beavers to sell me a car so they could show a strong month in sales. Whatever I didn’t really care about that. Th sales guy I dealt with was pretty cool, I definitely liked him a lot since he was willing to work with me but the finance/general manager was a total dick since he wouldn’t budge on price or financing. After a few hours of back and forth I decided to abandon the idea of the GTI since the other dealers I called didn’t have the car in the color or options I wanted since it was so new.

I decided to try the back up car on encouragement from my wife and found a 2013 Honda Accord V6 at a dealership near our house. I knew what I wanted to pay for the car and this time I tried Edmunds to get a guaranteed price from the dealership. I got a call from the dealer asking me to come in but since it was late I decided to try on Friday to get the car. The salesman again was very nice and I liked the car. Now for the pain…… the real shitty part about buying a car from a dealer is the negotiation on price and all the other people you have to deal with. All the people at this dealership though were willing to work with me unlike the VW one I went to. The maddening part was all the waiting I had to do as they tried to meet my requirements. Th first problem was the price which they thought was a little on the low side but eventually they gave in on that one, only took 20-30 minutes for that part. The next was the credit check and financing since I wanted to get a certain financing option that was available for 2014 models but not 2013 models. Since I already pay Honda a kings ransom for my Odyssey I thought this would be a breeze but this part took at least another 40 or so minutes. After looking at the paper work and negotiating the payment a little more I signed on the dotted line to agree to purchase the car. Now the next part was the real kick in the balls. I had to wait for a finance manager to be free to do the rest of the paper work. Enter another hour of just sitting on my ass with my family in the near empty dealership waiting for one dude to be free. You would think that in this day and age the process would be way quicker. Anyway, off to the finance managers office I go for 15-20 minutes of signing paper work to agree to pay more cash to American Honda for my brand new car. After almost two hours of being at the dealership I could see daylight, or in this case my new car parked outside since it was closing time.

Now normally the sales guy takes you through every button and feature in the car. I did that with the Odyssey when I bought it and that almost took another hour but it’s part of the service right? This time I just waved him off and said I could figure it out, it’s a Honda and I already own the most tricked out Odyssey they made in 2012, an Accord won’t give me any problems. He looked a little concerned since it was part of his job but I gave him a pass since it was late, the family was hungry, and I wanted to just get out of there with my car. Needless to say I have a new car to drive for the next 10 years probably. Honda still owes me my deck lid spoiler and the body side molding but I can get that this weekend.

I can now see why there is so much fear regarding Tesla. Tesla totally takes the dealer experience and throws it away. The cars are all built to order so you have to wait but here’s the kicker, there is no price negotiation, the financing can be done online through their website or at their stores (not dealerships) and once the car is ready they bring the thing to you. That’s how car buying should be! The reason I hate the car buying experience is because of all the needless waiting and time spent talking to multiple people to get something. The dealer way of selling cars is old and antiquated. When you buy from a dealer you’re enriching the dealer, not the car manufacturer since the dealer bought the car from the manufacturer! Reported car sales are really about what did dealers or fleets bought not consumers and of course they do all these little gimmicks to get you to buy from them like free oil changes, car washes, reduced gas, etc. buying direct from the manufacturer is the way to go. Think of how awesome it would be to just go to a store, pick out the car you want with the options you ask for and then have the car manufacturer either build it for you or take it from their inventory and deliver the thing. Sheer awesomeness! I suppose this model wouldn’t work well for used cars but places like Carmax do something similar.

I hope I don’t have to but another car for a long time because it’s way too time consuming and stressful. This was an extra long post but I guess it’s to make up for the months I haven’t posted anything.



Crossover Vehicles are WEAK

This past weekend was semi-exciting.  Not only was last week my last week in NJ, but I got to have some family fun this weekend which included going car shopping!  The reason for car shopping was to try and downsize from the Honda Odyssey that my wife and I purchased back in the beginning of 2012.  Make no mistake, the Odyssey is a beast of a van and has every bell and whistle you could imagine.  I personally love the car but since I don’t drive it on a daily basis, my wife wanted to look at other options which would involve trading in the Odyssey for something else.  My wife narrowed it down to two different cars, the Honda CR-V and the Nissan Murano.  I’ll give my impressions of both below.

Before I start on the vehicles themselves, I’ll give a brief explanation of my testing criteria.  Since I have a 2 year old, I really had 2 big requirements personally, my wife had other requirements but since this is my blog I’m only going to state my requirements.  One was the storage space in the trunk needed to be adequate.  The second was there needed to be enough power to get up to speed on the highway.  The only way for us to test this was to load the Bob Stroller in the trunk, put the car seat in the back with my daughter, and take the car for a test drive locally and on the highway.   When possible I had my wife do some of the driving to make sure she was comfortable with the car.

The first car that we decided to test drive was the Honda CR-V.  This was my wife’s first choice since it met most of the basic requirements that we had on paper.  We bought the van in Hollywood but thats just way to far to go to just do a simple test drive so we ended up going to Rick Case Honda which is where I get the van serviced.  They have one of the biggest dealerships in the area so we knew they would have plenty of cars for us to look at.

Honda CR-V

Being the person that I am, I wanted the totally pimped out CR-V.  I would have to drive it too on long trips to Disney and I enjoy my creature comforts.  The one in the show room was pretty decent, it wasn’t the top of the line but it gave us a good idea of what to expect.  My wife liked the car in the showroom and of course we would change the color and add little things here and there.  The fun part was that my daughter kept on gravitating towards the Honda Pilot which was close by.  While we were waiting for a sales person to get a loaner vehicle for us to try out, we checked out the Pilot too.  The Pilot is basically our van but in SUV form so we immediately ruled it out for now since the idea was to downsize in both car and cost and that just wouldn’t fit the bill.

OK back to the CR-V.  All CR-V’s have the same 4 cylinder 185HP engine but we wanted one that was decently equipped so we would know how everything was if we actually bought the car.  I had my wife take it out at first and we stopped by to get the car seat and the stroller.  What amazed me is that the sales guy let us drive it by ourselves instead of coming along for the ride.  I’m guessing he thought we would never try and steal the CR-V when our van is worth more used than a CR-V is new.  Anyway, after struggling a bit, I got the car seat in and I tossed in the stroller. First thing we noticed was that the stroller pretty much took up all the cargo room in the back.  Well that won’t do since we use the Bob Stroller for when we’re at Disney since its easier to push around.  Ignoring that for now, we went out for our little test run.  My wife went ahead and did the local road test and it went pretty well.  She decided to pull over and have me try it out on the highway since I have a lead foot and this was my major concern.  I went on I-75 and decided to go one exit since that should be sufficient.  The CR-V performed like most small cross overs I’ve driven as  rentals: not well at all.  I was almost flooring it and the CR-V was just sputtering along.  Even at almost twice the weight, the van had more pick up and go than the CR-V.  After some discussion, my wife agreed that the lack of engine power was kind of a deal breaker for us.  South Florida people drive fast and not being able to get enough power to enter the highway or pass someone while doing over 70 just isn’t safe.  While slightly disappointed, at least we knew definitively that we couldn’t get the CR-V at this time.

Nissan Murano

The next car we decided to try out was the Nissan Murano.  My wife and I are partial to Nissan’s because we both owned new Nissan’s after we got out of college and only recently added the van to our vehicle mix.  The Murano had some appeal to us because it had a V6 engine with just over 200HP.  We went up the road to the Nissan dealership and decided to go for a test run with the Murano.  Per the tests we wanted to do, I loaded up the car seat in the Murano and shoved the Bob Stroller in the trunk.  While we were looking at the Murano, I should note that we took a look at the brand new Nissan Pathfinders that just came out.  My sister-in-law owned a Pathfinder maybe 3-4 years ago and it was a boxy piece of crap.  The new one was definitely much more pleasing to the eye but the price point was the same as the Honda Pilot and the gas mileage was no better than the van.  Anyway, off we went in the Murano.  The difference was that I did all the driving with my wife in the back.  The great part was that the Murano had plenty of pep when hitting the highway compared to the CR-V.  The issue we had was that the trunk was again taken up by the Bob with nothing left over for anything else.  One thing we did notice as well after doing a little more research was that the price of the Murano and the Pathfinder were really close so getting a Murano at that price wouldn’t have made much sense really.  While we liked the features and the power of the car, the cargo and cost is not what we were looking for.

The overall decision, for now, is to keep our van.  I like it because it has the sliding doors and there is so much space to pack stuff when we decided to go on driving trips somewhere.  There are a few other things of note but then again, I wanted the van loaded to the gills with features.  I can put my Xbox360 in there and play games if I wanted to but I’ve held off for now.  While crossovers are nice and all, I think for the price paid and unless you really need an SUV, the van is the way to go for hauling people, stuff, and for comfort.  Well if you’re going to get a van, get a Honda Odyssey.

Loving My DVD Player in the Odyssey

I’ve come to have a new appreciation for I car DVD systems. When I purchased the new family Odyssey one of the features that I wanted was to have a DVD system for those really long car rides because the little one needs to have some entertainment. I recently turned the car seat around so now my daughter can face forward and see something other than the rear seat headrest. I’ve put a couple of her DVD’s in the car so that she can watch while we drive. I have to admit that this is way easier than having my wife holding up her iPad so that she can be entertained on long trips.

In addition to having the DVD system, we also have some headphones that link directly to the system so that I can still listen to my music while my daughter can listen to her DVD. Unfortunately my daughter doesn’t like having things on her head so I haven’t been able to listen to music while she watches her shows. It’s kind of weird to listen to a DVD and not be able to watch it. The screen in the front which has my GPS can only show my maps and not what’s in the DVD player. I suppose that’s a safety thing but if my wife ever sits in front with me she won’t be able to watch either.

What I want to try is the HDMI input in the third row. The screen for the DVD player can be split screen so I can watch two things at once. I don’t have the HDMI adapter for my iPad yet but if I can I intend to get one so that I can test out the split screen. I think I will fully test the DVD player sometime in May. I think a trip to Orlando is in order and my daughter should like it this time since it will be much warmer than the other times we’ve gone. If you are a parent, get a car with a DVD player, it will save your sanity.